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Although there is no official version of Microsoft Publisher For Mac, we’ve taken a look at the best desktop publishing software for Mac which are the best alternatives to Microsoft Publisher on a Mac.

Microsoft Publisher is different from Microsoft Word because it focuses more on creative Desktop Publishing (DTP) than word processing software.

Unfortunately, Microsoft has never released a Mac compatible version of Publisher and it is not included in Office 365 for Mac users.

We therefore researched the best Mac publisher apps for all levels and budgets to design publications both in print and online including newsletters, brochures, booklets, magazines, newspapers, leaflets, eBooks, flyers, banners, invitations and more.

After extensive research, we found that that by far the best Publisher for Mac alternative is Adobe InDesign for creating incredibly professional looking publications online and in print.

In these reviews we’ve looked at the best DTP software for Mac all of which are compatible with the latest versions of macOS including Big Sur, Catalina and M1 Macs.

Is There A Mac Version Of Publisher?

Microsoft has never released Publisher for Mac but the closest thing to MS Publisher on a Mac is Adobe InDesign.

The great thing about Adobe InDesign is that it’s far more powerful than MS Publisher and designed by graphic design software experts Adobe.

Microsoft doesn’t specialize in any kind of graphic design software and Microsoft Publisher is just aimed at Windows users that want to do some basic DTP work.

In addition to all this, Adobe InDesign is also one of the only desktop publishing tools for Mac that’s compatible with the latest Apple Silicon M1 Macs.

With this in mind then, here are the best Microsoft Publisher for Mac alternatives and top desktop publishing software for Mac in 2021:

1. InDesign

best publisher for mac alternative - indesign mac

Adobe InDesign is easily the best alternative to Microsoft Publisher on Mac for truly professional results and the best desktop publishing software for Mac by some distance.

InDesign is used professionally for everything from creating stationary, flyers, annual reports, calendars and posters to professional magazines, online interactive digital publications and e-books.

If you want to publish a book on your Mac, InDesign is definitely the best book publishing software for Mac and it’s as simple as clicking File > New > Book to instantly switch to a range of professional looking book publishing templates.

InDesign is also used by magazine publishers and is easily the best magazine software for Mac thanks to a huge number of professional magazine templates that make it easy to make a magazine on a Mac.

InDesign has become far more accessible to the average user too with an easier to use layout that’s closer to the Microsoft Office style ribbon interface and toolbox.

Adobe has simplified InDesign a lot to appeal to a wider market and there are also plenty of easy to follow InDesign video tutorials to help you get to grips with the software.

You can import high quality vector graphics from other Adobe apps such as Illustrator and Photoshop in a few clicks.

What allows you to get really creative with InDesign is undoubtedly Adobe Stock which integrates into all of its Creative Cloud software.

Adobe Stock is the best stock photo site we’ve seen with millions of royalty free stock images and videos including in 4K quality.

This means you can find and import high quality professional images and multimedia for virtually any subject which saves both time and money in sourcing images for your publication.

When it comes to printing out your publication, InDesign is also the best printing program for Mac as it uses a clever “PreFlight” system to check documents for issues to meet the requirements of commercial printing.

If you need to design a logo on your Mac, InDesign can also be used for this although we recommend checking out our guide to the best logo design software for Mac for a more suitable selection of tools.

On its own InDesign costs $20.99 per month.

However, if you’re entitled to an educational discount, Adobe InDesign is an absolute bargain right now as Adobe is currently offering 60% off the entire Adobe Creative Cloud suite

This means you get all 20 Creative Cloud apps for just $19.99.

For everyone else, Creative Cloud normally costs $52.99 per month so the 60% off offer is a huge saving.

That’s not just InDesign you get – Creative Cloud includes 20 industry leading apps including Photoshop, Lightroom, Spark, Adobe XD, Illustrator, Premiere Pro and Acrobat Pro.

So you’re basically getting 20 Adobe applications for the price of one copy of InDesign

You can download a free trial of InDesign to see it for yourself.

You can check our full review of Adobe InDesign for a more in-depth look.

Pricing: 60% off with Creative Cloud Educational Discount or $20.99/m

Pros:

  • Industry standard app for desktop publishing
  • 60% discount for students and teachers
  • Incredibly powerful at creating layouts
  • Thousands of professional templates
  • Creates amazing offline and interactive online publications
  • Fully integrated with all Creative Cloud products including Photoshop
  • Includes millions of professional images and videos via Adobe Stock
  • Mac desktop app and can be used offline and online
  • Works on the latest M1 chip Macs

Cons:

  • Limited PDF editing options

2. Swift Publisher

swift publisher

Swift Publisher is an impressive, user-friendly and slick desktop publishing application for Mac that’s become increasingly popular as a great alternative to Microsoft Publisher on a Mac for beginners.

Swift Publisher is made by Belight Software who are also the team behind Live Home 3D which is one of the best home design software for Mac users.

If monthly or annual subscriptions are not for you, Swift Publisher provides an excellent value for money desktop publishing software for Mac for just $19.99.

The good thing about all Belight products like Swift Publisher is that they don’t require lots of learning like professional DTP software for Mac but produce professional looking results.

However, it still includes many professional features you get in expensive DTP software such as Master pages, guide lines, grid layers, tables and more.

Swift Publisher is ideal for producing booklets, bulletins, flyers or brochures and makes rearranging elements such as images, tables and text very easy.

Swift Publisher has 500 professional looking templates which you can customize anyway you want and help you create layouts quickly.

Swift Publisher is also integrated with Apple Photos and Aperture and you can export your work to PDF, JPEG, EPS, TIFF and iCloud. There are also more advanced touches like the possibility to define bleeds and configure correct DPI for print publishing.

There are also lots of easy to follow video tutorials to get you started with Swift Publisher although we found you still sometimes have to Google certain functions to work out how to do them.

We noticed stability can be an occasional issue when working with lots of images but for pamphlets, flyers and straightforward publications, it works very well.

If you want an easy to use DTP app that’s similar to Publisher but without a steep learning curve or monthly subscription fees, then Swift Publisher is an excellent, value for money tool.

You can find full details on Swift Publisher pricing here.

You can read our full Swift Publisher review here.

Pros:

  • Easy to learn for beginners
  • Impressive DTP layout tools
  • Lots of templates
  • Good value for money

Cons:

  • Lacks professional desktop publishing tools
  • Not suitable for complex layouts
  • No stock photography or video integration
  • No InDesign import support

3. Pages

pages for mac

Pages is Apple’s excellent alternative to Microsoft Word for Mac and used to be part of Apple’s version of Microsoft Office, iWork.

Nowadays, Pages comes free with any new Mac and is also available to download for free from the Mac App Store.

Although Pages is more commonly used for word processing, it is also capable of desktop publishing.

If you’re used to Microsoft Word, it can take some time to work out where the equivalent functions are in Pages but it’s well worth the effort.

With lots of professional looking templates and layouts, you can create some really professional results using Pages.

Pages does have its drawbacks though.

Working-out how to format things, insert tables and move elements around the page isn’t as easy as it should be but again, all it requires is familiarity with how Pages works.

Some users are also disappointed at recent versions of Pages which they feel aren’t as good as previous versions with some features removed or not as easy to find as before.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much support for Pages or many tutorial videos either so if you get stuck, you’ll find yourself having to Google the answer.

Pages can’t be compared to a professional desktop publishing solution like InDesign, but it’s ideal if you want a word processor and desktop publisher in one.

You can read our full review of Apple Pages for more.

Pricing: Free

Pros:

  • Made by Apple
  • Suitable for word processing and DTP
  • Easy to use (when you get used to it)
  • Lots of templates

Cons:

  • Not suitable for professional desktop publishing
  • Focuses more on word processing than DTP
  • No InDesign import support
  • Can be unstable

4. Lucidpress

lucidpress on mac

Lucidpress promotes itself as a “brand templating platform” and is an easy to use online desktop publishing software.

Lucidpress is extremely user friendly and helps you to create extremely professional looking print and digital publications including magazines, newsletters, posters, flyers, reports, digital magazines and more.

There’s nothing to download with Lucidpress as it’s all cloud based and the basic version is free to use although way too limited for serious publishing work.

Lucidpress allows you to easily drag and drop elements, import text from Google Docs, add tables, buttons and insert interactive media such as YouTube videos.

It’s very easy to do common tasks like change the size of your canvas, undo edits and edit headers and footers in Lucidpress.

One of the most striking things about Lucidpress is the huge range of professional looking templates ranging from posters and invitations to gift certificates and business cards.

Templates are optimized for high quality 300dpi printing although this is only available in the Professional Plan of Lucidpress.

You can even import Adobe InDesign files into Lucidpress although the results often aren’t perfect and you’ll find a lot of elements missing.

The basic single user version of Lucidpress is completely free to use but is limited to 3 documents and 3 pages so it’s not suitable for serious desktop publishing.

To remove these limits and get other benefits such as print quality PDFs, document embedding and premium templates, the Professional Plans starts at $10 per month.

You can check out out full Lucidpress Review for more.

Pricing: $10 per month

Pros:

  • Works on all platforms
  • Very easy to use
  • Lots of templates
  • Excellent for brand building

Cons:

  • Too basic for complex layouts
  • Only available online
  • InDesign import tool doesn’t work well

5. Scribus

scribus for mac

The closest thing to a free equivalent to Publisher on a Mac is Scribus.

Scribus is an open source desktop publishing application which isn’t very polished as you’d expect from a free DTP app but it’s surprisingly powerful.

Scribus is best for creating books but can also be used to create magazines, brochures, newsletters and posters.

If you’ve used a desktop publishing program before, the interface to Scribus will look familiar but you really have to feel your way around it.

There is an extensive Scribus Wiki but it’s quite dry and there are no tutorial videos to follow.

Scribus isn’t updated very often as it relies on a small group of volunteers to keep it running so don’t expect anything in the way of new features or support if things go wrong.

There are also quite a few drawbacks to Mac version of Scribus.

Firstly you need to install Ghostscript on your Mac in order for it to work. The stable version of Scribus only works on 32 bit Macs too.

Only the development version of Scribus 1.5.5 or newer works on 64 bit versions of macOS such as Mojave, Catalina and Big Sur which can be unstable and crash randomly.

Scribus also does not work with Apple Silicon M1 Chip Macs.

If you want a free DTP software though, and have time study the manual, Scribus about the best free alternative to MS Publisher for Mac users.

You can check out our full review of Scribus for more.

Pricing: Free

Pros:

  • Free open source desktop publisher
  • Surprisingly powerful layout tools
  • Great for book publishing

Cons:

  • Stable version doesn’t work on latest versions on macOS
  • Not suitable for professional publishing
  • No InDesign import support
  • Doesn’t work with M1 Macs

Can You Open Publisher Files On a Mac?

There is no desktop publishing software that can open the MS Publisher .pub file format on a Mac.

However, there are ways to open Publisher files on Mac by converting them to another format which you can then open in most of the MS Publisher alternatives featured here.

We don’t recommend doing this though because the results are often badly formatted with important elements missing.

You’re much better off using one of the alternatives to Microsoft Publisher featured here.

Can You Run MS Publisher On a Mac?

It is possible to run MS Publisher on a Mac by installing Windows on Mac. There are various ways to do this but for Microsoft Publisher, we recommend using the Parallels virtual machine.

However, you would also need to purchase the virtualization software first and also have a valid Windows subscription to Office 365, Office 365 Home, Office 365 Personal or Office 365 University.

You can find out exactly how to install Microsoft Publisher on a Mac here.

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80 Responses

  1. Ryan

    Swift site now says M1 chip compatible. Not sure when that was added.

    Reply

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